29 August 13

Developing Undercover Work at BIRN Summer School

The fourth day of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Summer School programme continued with lectures on undercover operations and research, as well as tips for following paper trails in stories.

Former FBI undercover operative Stephen Salmieri told the journalists participating in the Summer School that undercover investigative work is extremely dangerous, which is why it should be used as sparingly and requires a lot of preparation.

In order to minimise security risks, Salmieri said that journalists working undercover should not change their personality. He also said that journalists should know their targets and research their sources, as well as keep in constant contact with their parent organisation.

"When doing investigations, know everything you can know your enemy. Let go of your ego and reduce tensions. If you come across as aggressive, the situation will quickly escalate," said Salmieri.

A perfect undercover agent, according to Salmieri, is a smart and aware person who listens carefully.

Two times Pulitzer Prize winner Eric Nalder gave the participants of the Summer School tips on how to gather material evidence and documents from companies and organisations. He emphasised the importance of physically going to organisations, carefully interviewing workers and using psychological tricks to control the communication with them.

Nalder also said that after gathering documents, journalists should organise them carefully.

“Always be organised. Use Excel or other spreadsheets to organise your documents, otherwise you might get lost in them,” said Nalder.

British journalist David Leigh also discussed the need to collect documents, but also highlighted that while writing the story, journalists should make sure to provide readers with several points of access.

“Provide photos, interviews, galleries and short clips. Presentation is key. Your story is useless if it does not reach the public,” said Leigh.

The BIRN Summer School is taking place this week in Slovenia with 30 journalists from Serbia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Austria, Estonia, France and Romania participating. It will finish on Friday.

The BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting 2013 is organised in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation, the Belgian National Lottery, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, the OSCE Mission to Serbia and USAID in Macedonia.

Fill out my online form.

Latest News and Events

new-birn-war-crimes-film-premieres-in-belgrade

New BIRN War Crimes Film Premieres in Belgrade

BIRN's latest feature-length documentary, which investigates the commanders responsible for some of the most brutal attacks of the Kosovo war, was screened for the first time in Belgrade.

birn-albania-holds-roundtable-on-elections

BIRN Albania Holds Roundtable on Elections

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a roundtable in the city of Kukes on Monday April 27th, where the priorities for local candidates for the June 21st local elections in four municipalities were discussed.

call-for-expression-of-interest

Call for Expression of Interest

Fostering Transparency in Procurement Procedures Through Investigative Journalism


Tirana, May 8-9, 2015

birn-albania-launches-media-monitoring-study-on-corruption

BIRN Albania launches Media Monitoring Study on Corruption

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania launched a media monitoring study, ‘Reporting Corruption on Broadcast and Print Media: The Case of Albania’, at a workshop in Tirana on Thursday April 16.

birn-serbia-holds-heathcare-financing-debate

BIRN Serbia Holds Heathcare Financing Debate

The debate on Tuesday heard how the Law on Public Procurement is causing problems for the healthcare system and needs to be changed.

birn-stories-win-awards-in-macedonia

BIRN Stories Win Awards in Macedonia

The Macedonian Media Institute on Thursday presented the awards for best investigative stories for 2014. First prize went to Ljubisa Arsic of the weekly Fokus for a series of stories named “Secret manufacturing plant for passports”.

serbia-press-council-backs-birn-against-informer

Serbia Press Council Backs BIRN Against ‘Informer’

The Complaints Commission unanimously agreed to issue a public reprimand to the Informer newspaper following its reports on BIRN’s investigation into the Tamnava mine.

birn-macedonia-launches-seventh-call-for-investigative-reports

BIRN Macedonia Launches Seventh Call for Investigative Reports

BIRN Macedonia, together with Centre for Investigative journalism - SCOOP Macedonia and the Centre for Civil Communications launched the seventh call for investigative stories on March 2nd.

birn-builds-up-library-of-investigative-journalism

BIRN Builds up Library of Investigative Journalism

BIRN Macedonia on February 25 donated a variety of books to the School of Journalism and Public Relations in Macedonia in order to provide additional support to the students of the school in strengthening their skills and knowledge of investigative journalism.

albania-reporters-trained-on-likely-impact-of-reform

Albania Reporters Trained on Likely Impact of Reform

On February 20th and 21st BIRN Albania held a two-day workshop in the city of Durres with ten journalists on the country’s administrative and territorial reform and its impact on the local elections, due at the end of June. 

In This Article

Network